How to Effectively Manage Leads at Every Stage in Your Sales Funnel

Effective lead management is one of the core principles of any successful business. It means helping the right people become your customers and making it easy for them to buy from you again in the future.

When you get lead management right, you can:

  • Convert more prospects into customers
  • Streamline operations
  • Improve sales experiences

But it's not always clear how to create an effective lead management process.

Is it about quickly responding to leads, keeping your CRM neat and tidy, or using the right tags and lists?

The short answer is that it's about all of the above.

There are lots of moving parts, but lead management is ultimately about data management plus relationship building. One of the best ways to view your lead management strategy is through the lens of Data Lifecycle Management (DLM). DLM consists of five stages:

  • Data collection
  • Data storage
  • Data maintenance
  • Data usage
  • Data cleaning

Every lead passes through the same stages with your business, so it's important to get each one right for effective lead management.

To help you maximize lead management at every stage, here are some best practices to implement in your business.

Best Practices for Effective Lead Management

Collecting Leads

1. Adjust form fields for accurate data entry.

Lead management starts with adding new leads to your database. It's a crucial part of the process; after all, how you collect leads determines how organized things will be further down the line.

Do your future self and colleagues a favor by collecting leads in a standardized, organized, and accurate way. This starts with adjusting form fields to collect the best data in the right structure.

2. Remember data protection regulations

One core part of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe is data protection by design. This means building data security and ethical use into the foundations of your business.

Make sure every lead you add to your database has given clear consent for their data to be stored and that you only store it for the time and purpose that you define in your terms and conditions.

Storing Leads

3. Centralize all leads in your CRM.

You can't manage your leads effectively if they're scattered between multiple platforms or in an outdated system that's not designed for contact management (we're looking at you, Excel sheets).

To stay on top of all leads and not let anything fall through the cracks, choose a CRM system that helps your team to provide the best customer experiences.

4. Create secure backups.

If all of your lead data is centralized on a single platform, it's important to conduct regular backups. One effective way to do this is with an automated sync to another cloud-based system. This can also make it easier to ensure data protection as well as your contacts' privacy.

Maintaining Lead Data

5. Make lead management easy for sales.

A lead management process that relies on manual input isn't efficient. It's a recipe for human error.

To minimize errors, make lead management as intuitive as possible for your team. You can do this with:

  • Automated processes
  • Data entry restrictions to ensure the right format is used
  • Syncing lead data from your most authoritative app

6. Enrich your data.

High-quality lead data is enriched lead data. What does this mean? It means that your sales reps aren't just given a name and email address to work with, but rather a comprehensive and high-def view of every prospect.

This can include a lead's industry, company size, and even goals and pain points based on previous interactions with marketing content and progressive forms. Data enrichment apps are also a handy way to include more insights on every contact record.

7. Segment your leads.

Segmentation is important for every department. It enables marketing to send the most relevant messages and advertising. Salespeople can use it to create a tailor-fit buying process. And, service teams can ensure that customers know about the most valuable features of your product or service.

With tags, labels, groups, and list memberships, you can organize your leads into the most relevant segments for your entire customer journey.

8. Sync leads between apps.

Most businesses use a lot more than one app to manage lead data. Marketers might input and update contact data on a different platform than their sales colleagues, and it's standard to have several platforms for different purposes within a single department.

You can avoid the headaches of manual updates and contradictory data by creating an automated sync between your apps. With a tool like Operations Hub, you can ensure that everyone is always looking at the latest and most enriched lead data in every app.

9. Use lead scoring.

One of the quickest ways to make your lead management more effective is with lead scoring. This is a common feature of advanced CRMs (although often gated behind higher plans) that instantly assigns positive or negative points to a lead based on the information they give and the interactions they have with your company. This enables your sales team to instantly identify the most sales-ready leads at any moment.

Data Usage

10. Use automation for the fastest outreach.

Much of the heavy lifting of lead management can be alleviated with automation. Some of the best ways to automate lead management include lead scoring, assigning and rotating leads, and syncing lead data between apps.

11. Create insightful reporting dashboards.

By visualizing your lead data, you can understand exactly how your team is performing. For the best insights, create reports that break down performance by funnel stage so you can understand where your team is thriving or where efficiency is breaking down.

12. Nurture your leads.

Effective lead management keeps leads engaged and moving through the funnel. This is where lead nurturing comes in. You can achieve this with timely and relevant email sequences that guide each lead towards a set goal, such as requesting a sales demo or becoming a customer.

13. Automatically assign leads to the best owner.

One other handy way to use automation is with lead routing, which directs each new lead to the right salesperson or support agent based on their location, product requirements, business size, or other attributes.

Cleaning Lead Data

14. Conduct regular cleanups.

Frequent housekeeping is an essential part of managing lead data. It keeps your data fresh and reliable and without it, decaying data can quickly get unmanageable and expensive to fix.

15. Avoid duplicates.

Having duplicate contacts in your database is a real barrier to effective lead management. To avoid duplicates, focus on:

  • Preventing duplicate contacts with a two-way contact sync between your apps. This doesn't delete duplicates, but it enables you to sync the cleanest data to avoid duplicates and it intelligently merges data that might overlap.
  • Fixing duplicate contacts with a built-in feature offered by your apps, or with a third-party solution. Here are some of the best tools to eradicate duplicates.

Effective lead management depends on how you collect, store, maintain, use and clean your lead data. With the help of a great CRM, solid processes for nurturing and automation, and regular housekeeping, you should be well on your way to streamlining your funnel.

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